By Imogen Spencer-Dale, Senior Account Executive
The past year has highlighted what we already knew – when communities come together they create real strength and resilience. At one of the most challenging times we are likely to experience in our lives, a much needed system of support was created by local communities throughout the pandemic. Formal and informal volunteering soared, while spirits were raised through Zoom gatherings and neighbourly chats over walls, with people reminding one another that they were not alone.
We witnessed the strength and dedication of people across the UK, helping anyone who raised a hand from delivering groceries to collecting medicines and then, as restrictions loosened, many were able to enjoy a socially distanced cup of tea for their first social contact in months.
Of course, helpful and connected communities were not invented in 2020. A healthy local community is one where residents hold genuine, mutual respect for one another and have a strong commitment to where they live. It is based on the foundation of a willingness to help and support one another and a mutual interest in the local area, from bin collections to schools and transport.
Connectivity is another important factor; people often see their neighbours far more frequently than friends or family. Organising or attending local events like village fetes, local clubs and coffee mornings strengthens the community bond. New or long-standing businesses are a key local asset, providing services while creating opportunities to connect.
When residents come together formally they can drive real change; whether it is influencing local councils to fill in potholes or setting up a charity fundraiser for a family in need. Residents are more likely to start these groups in the first place if the community feels like a place worth investing in.
Providing opportunities that cater for a range of age groups and interests is essential to be able to encourage people to participate in community events. The children attending Scouts run by local parents could then become adults who stay local and open a new children’s club or start a local enterprise, hoping to continue to improve their community.
Building a great community also relies on the residents themselves to look after their space and to be mindful of how their actions will affect the environment. A focus on sustainability counts towards improving the health of not only residents but their surroundings too. Simple gestures like adding extra planting or grass in gardens, trying to be as energy efficient as possible and figuring out alternative modes of transport like cycling or walking for shorter journeys, can make all the difference. A healthy environment equals a healthy and thriving community.
A community is home to people of different backgrounds and perspectives. Being willing and open to understanding people from different walks of life is extremely important, as it creates a healthy dialogue and encourages learning about new and exciting ideas or cultures. With the foundation of a healthy, happy and strong community, these individuals are able to grow and add to their experiences.
A focus on respecting one another, taking the time to learn and grow, sustainability, promoting fun events and keeping in touch with fellow members are just some of the key ingredients that allow a community to flourish. In a community like this, the possibilities are endless.